Under the canopies

Under the canopies

Carnival calling

Under the canopies

It was like a big family get-together. Everyone greeted each other with polite smiles on the streets of MG Road that was, for once, devoid of the irritable cries of vehicles. The ‘open streets’ concept was welcomed with the rhythmic beats of ‘dhols’ and steady steps by energetic dancers dressed in different costumes.

The parking lots were taken over by canopies that hosted the food stalls and other craft stores; the mostly disused space below the Metro Station wore a carnivalesque look with a variety of craftworks ornamenting the entire stretch and the Rangasthala was host to a variety of cultural programmes performed by enthusiasts coming in from different cities of the State. Harshith and his team of flash mob came all the way from Surathkal to show their support to the concept of ‘open streets’ in the City. They performed a fusion dance and the last dance was dedicated to all the ‘Kannadigas’ who were taken aback by their impressive moves.

The desire of walking carelessly on roads was granted by this concept as kids were not controlled or yelled at for being their true selves on roads. Yashmita and Anushka, two young sisters, walked on the vehicle-less streets blowing their sound-making toys with sheer joy. “MG Road is very nice today,” they said with innocent smiles. Shradha, a professional who has been born and brought up here, smelt the old Bengaluru on the new MG Road. She said, “It is a delightful Sunday. I am here with my husband and kids and it is a freedom of a different kind to be able to walk on the streets that are usually chock-a-block with traffic.”

The stall owners on the street too were excited to witness a pollution-free area and sat upright marketing their unique products to the excited customers. Commander MA Somana, an art enthusiast who crafts varied masks, attracted many customers to his stall, where he sat groomed wearing his brimmed hat. “I do a lot of painting, sculpting and mask-making as hobbies. The open street gave me a chance to display them in open. Some of the masks have been restored and have a history dating back to 200 years,” he explained.

A theatre team called the ‘Emoticons’, with white-washed faces and black attires, entertained the audience with their mimes while enlightening everyone on social issues. The street saw participation from a number of expatriates in the City too, who were glad to be witnessing hassle-free roads. Tubas, an expatriate from Sweden, had visitor Klas accompanying him to the carnival-like set up and he said, “I am glad to be walking around very freely today on this always-busy street. It is such a pleasure to not hear the honks and witness the regular, terrible traffic.”

What is celebration without a few selfies? This is what Johnathan and his troop ‘Interact’ were busy doing — helping people take unusual selfies. Dressed in grand attires and colourful masks, the troop of ‘Interact’ was supporting the cause by moving around the streets and posing for selfies with all the excited people. Tim, one of the troop members dressed like a clown, said, “We were part of the HSR Layout open street too. We are here to make people laugh and enjoy while they are showing their support to the best concept raised by the government.”

People even signed on the empty canvas put up below the Metro Station (that was not-so-empty later) requesting to make open streets a monthly affair in the City. They scribbled some artwork and messages and there was not a single person who cribbed about not being able to get their vehicles. The concept also promoted commuters to take public transport as there was a lucky draw counter, right at the entrance of MG Road, where one could drop their bus tickets hoping to get lucky and win a gift hamper.